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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Scott Dalrymple <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 16 Mar 1996 09:15:24 -0500
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (42 lines)
> Buck said she could rattle off poetry like
>nothing.  She didn't ever have to stop to think.    This last sentence is,
>of course, obvious from the poem.  Can someone tell me who this barb is
>directed toward?
>Tom in Tokyo
>[log in to unmask]

The note to the California edition of _Huck_ quite reasonably suggests that
the poem is meant as a burlesque of the general form of what Twain once
called "Post Mortem Poetry," rather than as an attack on any specific poet.
 However, it is still interesting to look at some of these poems.  Some
people have cited Isaac Watts (ca. 1700) as a possible source for SDBotts,
Dec'd.  Perhaps more likely was the influence of a popular 19th century poet,
Julia A. Moore, who published _The Sentimental Songbook_ in 1876. In
_Following the Equator_, Twain says her poetry "makes an intentionally
humorous episode pathetic and an intentionally pathetic one funny."  Here's a
sample of her verse that resembles SDBotts:

       Andrew was a little infant,
           And his life was two years old;
       He was his parents' eldest boy,
           And he was drowned, I was told.
       His parents never more can see him
           In this world of grief and pain,
       And Oh! they will not forget him
           While on earth they do remain.

        Etc, etc...........

If you're interested in still more info., a good starting point is Michael
Patrick Hean's _The Annotated Huckleberry Finn_ (NY: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc,
1981).  It's always useful for questions like this, as are a few other
sources that often receive mention here. Good luck.

Perfectly willing to accept a free beer from just about anyone for pedantic
or other purposes,

Scott Dalrymple
University at Buffalo